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Synod 2021 – 2023: For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.

“…the purpose of this Synod is not to produce more documents. Rather, it is intended to inspire people to dream about the Church we are called to be, to make people’s hopes flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationships, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and restore strength to our hands for our common mission” (Synod Preparatory Document)

On October 17th the world celebrated the opening of the Synod: “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, and mission”. This Synod will have a 3-phase consultation: diocesan, continental and universal. Pope Francis is asking all Catholic dioceses around the world to start consulting with parishioners and others from October 17 to hear the voices of the People of God.

In our diocese, the opening Mass for the Synod was celebrated by Archbishop Paul on Sunday 17th October at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. Parishes across the diocese joined in prayer for the Synod. In his homily Archbishop Paul said “The second Vatican Council was a decisive action of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church and called the church to be open to the world. This included the way the church operated itself, the involvement of all the people of God in the life of the church was to be the way of the future.
The church still has a structure and decision making levels, but the call is for all the faithful of the church to be involved. We are all on this journey together.

The word ‘synodality’ means “walking together”. Pope Francis invites us to reflect together on what this mutual journey means for us and for our Church – from the local to the universal. In the coming weeks, we are being called to involve as many people as possible – not only those who are at our Sunday assemblies but also those Catholics who may feel disconnected – to participate in this process.

Parish Leadership Teams and Parish Pastoral Councils are being asked to allocate time to participate in this consultation and make a submission and to lead synod conversations in parish communities.

How to participate

There are various ways in which you are able to contribute:

  • Gathering as part of a group. There will be opportunities in parishes and other communities to gather as part of a small group process for reflection and sharing.
  • Completing an online survey – this is now available for individuals or groups to complete. Click here to link to the survey
  • Submitting an email – see contact details below.
  • Sending in a postal response.

There are materials below to assist with your reflection and submission.

In our diocese we are focusing on the fundamental question of the Synod, which is:

A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together.”
How is this “journeying together” happening today in your local Church?
What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”?

If you wish to explore deeper the ten themes with associated questions for each theme, view this document:

A word document is provided below with the themes and a simplified question which can be used to complete your response.

In all the feedback options you are welcome to complete as much or as little as you wish.

For further background a ‘Preparatory Document’ and the ‘Vademecum’ or Official Handbook can be found on the Synod website.

More information will be posted here as the process evolves.

Diocesan Synod Contact:
Mike Stopforth
Email: mstopforth@cdoc.nz
Catholic Diocese of Christchurch
PO Box 4544
Christchurch 8140
Phone 0275398542

Synod Timeframe

The timeframe for the process has been updated following the announcement from Rome that the period of discernment is to be extended. The timeframe is now follows:

  • Sunday 17th October – Opening of Synod by Pope Francis in Rome
  • Sunday 24th October – Archbishop Paul opens the Synod here in Christchurch Diocese
  • October – formation of people who will facilitate group discussions
  • November to Friday 29th April – discussions in parishes and groups. Online survey available for groups or individuals to complete
  • May – diocesan submission drafted
  • May – Diocesan pre-synodal meeting
  • Friday 10th June – diocesan submissions provided to NZ Bishops’ Conference
  • The New Zealand Bishops’ synthesis of the diocesan consultations will then form part of an Oceania document which will be submitted to the Vatican for the Synod of Bishops

The Ten Themes of the Synod

  1. Companions on the journey
  2. Listening
  3. Speaking out
  4. Celebration
  5. Sharing responsibility for our common mission
  6. Dialogue in Church and society
  7. Ecumenism
  8. Authority and participation
  9. Discerning and deciding
  10. Forming ourselves in synodality
The Prayer of the Synod

This prayer (attributed to St. Isidore of Seville 560-636), has been traditionally used at Councils and Synods for hundreds of years. The version below was specifically designed for the Church’s Synodal journey from 2021 to 2023.

We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts; Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of truth and what is right.
All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time, in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever. Amen.

Resources for Facilitators

The booklet below provides background information on the synod – useful for everyone, but particularly for small group facilitators